Park City seats housing panel amid widening worries
Park City on Thursday seated a panel dedicated exclusively to housing issues, a move that is meant to advance City Hall’s efforts amid worries there are large numbers of workers and others who have been priced out of the market.
Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council have made housing one of the municipal government’s top priorities. There have been numerous discussions in recent months that either centered on housing or that addressed the issue alongside other topics, but the panel is expected to hold more detailed talks about a range of housing-related issues.
The panel is called the Blue Ribbon Housing Commission and is made of seven Park City residents. The panel members are: Nicole Butolph, Thomas Horton, Ron Hunt, Meg Ryan, Mark Sletten, Mike Stewart and Glenn Wright. At least two of the panelists, Wright and Ryan, were in attendance.
The mayor and City Council did not extensively discuss the appointments prior to the unanimous approval. A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting indicated 23 applications were submitted. Of those, 20 were found to be complete and submitted by someone who was eligible to serve on the panel. Someone must be a Park City resident and a registered voter to serve. A four-person committee made of City Hall staffers and housing advocates recommended the selections.
The applicant pool represented "a diversity of community and professional experience, age, gender, income and tenure in the community," the City Hall report said. It was written by Phyllis Robinson, the communications and public affairs manager for the municipal government. Robinson has a background in housing issues as well.
Terms run until March 31, 2016. The panel’s first meeting is scheduled on Monday. There are expected two meetings per month at the outset of the panel’s work.
The Blue Ribbon Housing Commission is anticipated to cover a series of housing issues. Some of them include City Hall rules that formulate a developer’s work force or otherwise affordable housing requirements and what sort of developments are required to build those categories of housing.
Ryan, one of the panelists in attendance, said in an interview after her appointment she hopes the Blue Ribbon Housing Commission makes "practical and realistic" recommendations. Ryan was a planner for the municipal government in the 1990s and 2000s. She lives in Park Meadows and works for the Utah League of Cities and Towns, an organization that represents the interests of local governments.
Wright, who was also at the meeting, is a Prospector resident. He is an officer in Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties. He said he wants the panel to explore developer incentives regarding housing. Wright said people earning less than $30,000 per year have trouble in the Park City housing market.
"It’s very difficult to find housing if that’s what you bring home" and are supporting a family, Wright said.
Housing has long been an issue in Park City as many rank-and-file workers have been forced out of the resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in the state. Park City leaders say a robust housing program benefits the community by ensuring socioeconomic diversity and reducing commuter traffic. The concerns have heightened recently as Park City enjoyed a strong exit from the recession, pushing up housing prices.
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.